Dedicated and tenacious or devoted and unyielding — whichever words you choose, they fit Brown Terrell Hogan attorneyLeslie Goller in her quest to protect residents of Jacksonville from toxic pollution and invasive odors.
More than 13 years ago, while a solo practitioner, Leslie first became involved in an effort to prevent St. Vincent’s Hospital from expanding an incinerator used for destroying medical and other waste. The project not only would have increased the capacity of the burner, but would have incorporated a wet scrubber process, a technique that pollutes water, as well as air.
Leslie, working with John N. Austin, an asbestos client of Brown Terrell Hogan, and a citizens group, challenged granting the hospital a permit. In the settlement, the hospital agreed to testing so that pollution could be monitored. But in a “Catch 22” situation, no standards for emission limits for Dioxins and Furans had yet been established by the state, and local authorities refused to issue a modified permit that required testing because there was no standard. Instead, the state issued the permit with the additional pollution testing requirements.
Ten years later, with the hospital continuing to use the incinerator in the interim, standards were issued. Pollutants from the incinerator exceeded the limit and the City of Jacksonville, which had also been disposing of water containing pollutants from the incinerator’s scrubber, refused to do so any longer.
Last year St. Vincent’s switched back to the old dry scrubber method, but still failed to meet the standard. The incinerator was closed, and earlier this year the hospital formally returned its permit to the state.
“A health care provider polluting a neighborhood, endangering the health of the citizens it serves — it just wasn’t right,” Leslie said of her incentive to stay with the effort along with other citizens. “It’s a good example of people pulling together to eventually get a just result.”
“Our firm takes pride in seeing even the most difficult and frustrating cases through,” said Brown Terrell Hogan’s president, Wayne Hogan. “It is all the more important when the public’s health and safety are involved. Through our mutual client, asbestos victim and environmental activist, John N. Austin, I learned of Leslie’s determination in pursuing this and other cases. That is one of the reasons we invited her to join the firm and is emblematic of a tradition we work every day to uphold.”